In spite of the ban on homosexuality, Nigeria’s National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA) has recorded a high number of male sex workers with 3,500 confirmed to be in Abuja alone.
NACA is worried by the figures because over 60 per cent of the men (it did not document their partners) were married, which increases the fear of the vulnerability of their spouses to HIV.
“At 2015 World AIDS day, the Director-General of NACA John Idoko explained that the agency was focusing on these sex workers and their families in the drive to curtail the spread of HIVAids.
“He pinpointed three council areas in the Federal Capital Territory – Gwagwalada, Bwari and Abuja Municipal – as the hotspots of male sex work.
“Prof Idoko said the agency is developing interventions to be able to reduce contact between infected and uninfected persons.
“Even with modern technologies, HIV prevention is very complex, so says Prof James Blanchard, the director of Global Health at the University of Manitoba and a visiting lecturer in Nigeria.
The complexity, he says, is caused by social factors that need to be addressed such as political commitment and aocacy, laws and labour policies, community mobilisation and a host of other things.
“We need to match our HIV interventions with the population of HIV distribution. We need to get down to the micro level to know where we put our resources. We have the sex workers, persons who inject drugs and men who have sex with men,” he said recently.
“He explained that the NACA survey has identified eight priority states in Nigeria because HIV is not evenly distributed, adding that there are very large populations of HIV-vulnerable people in parts of Abuja, Lagos and Nasarawa and Benue states.
“”We found that in Benue, 60 per cent of men who visited bars, restaurants and hotels were seeking sexual partners while 12 per cent of the females were seeking sexual partners and 9 per cent of those who patronise these places are female sex workers.,” said Prof Idoko.
Former President Goodluck Jonathan in 2013 enacted a law forbidding homosexuality. The offence is punishable by 14 years imprisonment.
“Recent surveys indicate that male prostitution is becoming a lucrative business in Lagos as young boys and men throng the elite areas of Ikoyi, Lekki and Island on Fridays nights for sexual encounters.
“The young men sell their bodies for between $50 and $60 per night.
SOURCE: AFRICA REVIEW